a forum for the discussion of issues concerning the natural environment
September 5, 2009 By jennifer
Larry Fields says
September 6, 2009 at 6:13 am
I don’t view the bat lung damage as being a conversation-stopper. It may be possible to mitigate the effect by building ‘bat houses’ a reasonable distance away from wind farms. If the bat houses are sufficiently attractive, then some bats will choose to live there, rather than in their old digs nearer the wind farms. If the wind farms are barely out of the foraging range from the new bat houses, then there will be fewer bat fatalities.
The bat houses could be useful in two situations:
1. when a particular endangered bat species is being killed off by the wind turbines,
2. when friendly, pestiferous-insect-eating bats are being killed by wind turbines in agricultural areas.
There’s also an evolutionary angle to consider. Bats with Precautionary-Principle genes will be more cautious in the vicinity of wind farms, and will have a selective genetic survival advantage over bats with devil-may-care genes. If this is the case, I’d expect most of the bat populations to recover eventually, and for bat fatalities to decrease markedly over time.
September 7, 2009 at 12:06 am
What does a “bat house” comprise?
September 7, 2009 at 4:27 pm
Good question! There’s a small problem on my end: My Batmobile is not designed for ocean voyages. So I’d have to fly to Australia to study the bats in question. I’m not sure what could be done for the bats who live in trees. But for the bats who live in caves, it should be possible to construct ersatz bat caves with horizontal bars for hanging upside-down while sleeping, and all of the other comforts of home. We could even shovel a little bat guano on the floor for some authentic ambiance. We could also play the soundtrack from the TV series at dusk as a wake-up call for any bats who are tempted to sleep in.
Enterprising souls in France, and even in Japan, have constructed impressive replicas of the Lascaux Cave and have created amazing fake versions of the prehistoric artwork. (In the French case, the motivation was to preserve their national treasure for further scientific study.) We could hire some of these construction supervisors as consultants.
I’m not sure how the prospective tenants would rate the new bat caves. But any of the endangered bats could definitely afford the rent in their new digs!
What would you add?
September 8, 2009 at 6:34 am
Your going to need a new gravatar/photograph is you continue with the Batmobile theme.
All the bats I have watched sleep upside down outside in trees – in very large groups/colonies.
When I lived in Chelmer/Bribane I was near a very large colony which you can probably find if you google Indooroopilly Island and bats. There is also a large colony near where I am now (temporarily staying in Sydney) google Sydney Botanical Gardens.
September 8, 2009 at 7:33 am
Holy moley Batman! I didn’t know that. But all is not lost.
In the Sierra foothills, I’ve seen a couple cell phone towers disguised as pine trees. My very first glimpse prompted the something-is-wrong-with-this-picture response, and after a minute, I realized that they were far too symmetrical. My next thought: In a perverse sort of way, it’d be fun to sneak out to one of the sights at midnight, and plant some English garden gnomes around the tower. 😛
Anyway, do you think that we could fool the bats with fake trees at safe distances from the wind farms?
September 8, 2009 at 9:49 am
The problems is bats are out hunting insects and are getting embolisms from the concussion of hte huge wind mills.
Bat houses would make it worse, by attracting bats in into the windmill areas.
In Texas, bridges are designed to double service as bat houses.
Austin has the most successful example of this:
Wind mills are a bad idea whose idea should never come.
James Mayeau says
September 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm
I got to float my bobber with Hunter on this one.
If they aren’t killing bats, they’re chopping the heads off of eagles. Conservative estimates put the number at 4700 birds of prey killed annually by Altamont.
Not to mention they don’t produce worth a damn, need constant back up from conventional powerplants.
Wind Mills are a bad idea.
I like the idea of adapting cell phone towers to be used as bird houses though.
Jame Mayeau says
September 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm
spangled drongo says
September 8, 2009 at 3:18 pm
“What does a “bat house” comprise?”
Any house in our neck of the woods without screens. And the window open.
But as hunter says, if the low pressure blows their lungs, a la “the bends”, bat houses won’t be the answer.
The old traditional windmills were never a problem. They were designed for torque more than horse power and governed to shut off beyond a certain speed. It must be these high aspect ratio foils that are designed to be that little bit more efficient with very high tip speeds.
And I’ll bet that’s why they are not much good in light airs.
I would imagine that they would be very unpleasant to live near.
September 8, 2009 at 8:53 pm
We have an old carriage house where our youngest son lives and he hasn’t closed the windows in twenty years because to do so would upset the routine of the bat colony.
He knows all the bats personally [they are mostly micros] and they add to the character and cleanliness [or lack thereof] of the place.
September 12, 2009 at 12:29 pm
I once drove past a wind farm. As a result, I now have permanent hearing loss and need to cart an oxygen bottle with me all day. After I got out of hospital, it took half a day to clean all the dead birds out of my van.
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